A training program aimed at increasing Aboriginal employment in the Department of Corrective Services (DCS) was officially launched at Challenger TAFE recently.
The 18 Aboriginal Pre-Employment Program (PEP) trainees have undertaken a Certificate I in Leadership Development to build communication and computer skills and problem-solving and self-management techniques.
The 13-week program, which is partly funded by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, includes nine weeks College-based training followed by a four-week work placement in prisons, juvenile detention centres and community justice centres.
The College’s General Manager of Training, Research and Development, Jill Jamieson, said the partnership was an extension of their collaborative approach to training, and that the program would benefit the participants and the wider community.
“We are delighted to have partnered with DCS to deliver the PEP. Many committed staff have worked to ensure it brings great value to the community while also providing lifelong skills for the students,” she said.
“This program is also another example of how the College has produced positive results through collaboration with community and industry partners, which has covered such diverse areas as hospitality, construction and environmental management.”
The Assistant Commissioner of Corporate Support at DCS, Graeme Doyle, said the PEP promised a real solution to Aboriginal issues within the prison system.
“This is a great initiative that will bring about real action to target Aboriginal employment outcomes at DCS,” he said.
“A strong Aboriginal workforce is needed to manage Indigenous overrepresentation in the justice system, and the PEP will help achieve this.”
The course participants were looking forward to making a positive contribution within their community.
Michael Hansen thanked DCS and Challenger TAFE lecturers and staff for their continued support, and said he had gained a crucial understanding of how to engage with the main issues faced by Aboriginal offenders as a result of the PEP.
“I’ve developed the confidence and knowledge to act as a positive role model within my community, as well as an insight into what is needed to address some of the problems, which can be a major hurdle,” he said.
“My motivation is to help others achieve their goals and ambitions, as we are currently doing by participating in the course,” said Kim Riley.
Local elder, Noel Morrison, who opened proceedings with a Welcome to Country, urged the students to take an active role in rectifying past suffering.
“A lot of our people have suffered in the past, but we’re here to make it better. You have to persevere for the next generation out of respect for your families and your culture,” he said.